Review: Betty

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“You know what the heaviest thing in the world is, Betty? It’s a man on top of you when you don’t want him to be.”

WARNING: Here there be spoilers

I cried at least three separate times in the last hundred pages of this book. It touched me deeply. The women and girls in this story faced heart-breaking trials – they’re poor, even by rural Appalachian standards, they’re half-Native American in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and they’re constantly controlled and told how to think, act, and speak by men, often violently. This is a tightly-woven coming-of-age story from the perspective of Betty, the 5th of 7 Carpenter children from white Alka and Cherokee Landon. She looks the most like her father and is harassed, assaulted, and bullied for it, but inside her there is a beautiful voice that can’t be silenced, that longs for freedom.

This one is not for the faint of heart. There’s incest, rape, child death, a scene in which Betty’s mother accidentally kills a mother cat and then makes Betty help her smash the newborn kittens, and a scene in which Betty’s sister ties her own son to the train tracks and only barely saves him in time.

My stomach dropped in quite a few scenes, but this book was so worth it. Its depth, its lyrical writing, and its fully-formed characters easily make Betty one of the best books I’ve read in 2021.

Dates read: December 27-30, 2021

I wish more people would read Betty. I spend a lot of time on gifting groups looking at others’ TBRs (and sending gifts, of course) and I have yet to come across anyone else looking to read it. I have a tendency when gifting to send books I’ve already read, so we can discuss if they’re interested. And, more importantly, because I know for sure the book is good (meaning I’d have to like it before I gifted it, ruling out The Lost Apothecary of course). What do y’all think? Is that selfish? Hateful? Friendly? I don’t know, either.

I’m really bummed out that Reddit stopped their Secret Santa program. That was so much fun and I wish I could find something like it. I found a group on Facebook and joined and sent my Santa something but, of course, I didn’t get anything back, so that’s the last time I do one of those! Anyone know of any alternatives? Have any comments on what a giant brat I am? Have suggestions for other books just as engaging and beautiful as Betty? Send it all my way!

Til next time,

-Emjay

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